Sunday, Nov 28, 2021

Oorah Nachas Files

The incredible thing about working in kiruv is that you never know when your efforts will bear fruit, a lesson Mrs. Mira Septimus learned very dramatically just last week. In her fourth summer at TheZone, Mrs. Septimus, a party planner from Highland Park, New Jersey, took on a new role, heading Oorah's Discover U program for post-high school girls. “To be honest,” she says, “it was the most incredible experience I had, because I had the opportunity to make such a difference on such personal levels. We got four girls into seminary that summer who were not planning on going.”

Still, when Mrs. Septimus received a call from an Israeli number one night, thoughts of that summer several years earlier were far from her mind. Mrs. Septimus tells the story.

– – – – –

“Is this Mrs. Septimus?” asked the voice over the phone. I responded in the affirmative. The person asked me if I recognized her voice and of course I answered, “I don’t yet. Keep talking and I’m sure I will figure it out!”

She then said, “I am in Israel for Shana Bet. It is because of you that I am here. Can you guess who I am now?”

Trying as hard as I could, I had to admit that I couldn’t identify her voice.

“I’ll give you one more clue,” she offered. “You spent hours on the phone organizing money from many sources and then your husband even drove me in the middle of the night to the airport. Do you remember now?”

As disappointed as I was in myself for not remembering the story that was so vivid to her, I calmly apologized and asked her to tell me who she was.”

“It’s Rada,” she said. “You cannot believe how much I have grown. You have to see me now.”

She spent the next hour telling me about her seminary life, her job, her goal in finishing her BA this year and looking for law schools, and, most importantly, her growth in Yiddishkeit. She touched on all subjects, from tznius to dancing, davening to her relationship with Hashem.

We spoke for a long time and we committed to keeping in touch. Our conversation would have continued for another hour, but I had an appointment that I was already late to. As we were saying our goodbyes, she asked me for a few more minutes, as she had one more thing to tell me.

“Mrs. Septimus,” she said, “please be mochel me. I meant to call you since I first got here. The times went by and I was having fun, learning and growing, and I really apologize for not keeping in touch.”

“It’s no problem,” I replied. “I am just so proud of you, and even more so, I hope you are prouder than that.”

“It’s not that,” she said. I was crying as she was apologizing, because you cannot imagine how moving what she said was. “It’s because of you that I am here. Hashem was behind everything, but if I weren’t at camp, and you weren’t there, I wouldn’t be here. It took a long time to realize that I had to go through all I did to get where I am today.”

– – – – –

There are many Oorah rabbis, volunteers and camp staff members who can join Mrs. Septimus in testifying that, indeed, Rada’s journey was long and arduous, full of twists and turns and littered with obstacles along the way. From dealing with unwilling parents to finding the right school each year, her path certainly held its ups and downs. But each can now point to this beautiful bas Yisroel and say, “I had a cheilek in her growth.” What an incredible zechus.

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